COOPERSTOWN _ Tony La Russa took a break from his retirement this past weekend.
A little less than two weeks after managing the National League's 8-0 All-Star Game victory over the American League, La Russa visited the area to take part in the 2012 Hall of Fame Weekend.
He was far from just a spectator, though, as La Russa joined Whitey Herzog and Red Schoendienst at Doubleday Field on Saturday during the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation. The three were honored for leading the St. Louis Cardinals to World Series titles _ in 2011 and 2006 under La Russa; in 1982 with Herzog; and in 1967 with Schoendienst.
Ironically, 1982 marked the last time La Russa visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame, when he was in town to manage the Chicago White Sox during the annual Hall of Fame Game at Doubleday Field.
"When they played the game here, we brought our clubs in here, but it was so rushed," said La Russa, who also managed the White Sox in the 1980 Hall of Fame Game. "We just walked through (the Hall) and you played the game and left. So I never really appreciated it until now."
La Russa, who also managed the 1989 World Series champion Oakland A's, toured the Hall before Saturday's Awards Presentation and said he was impressed with the exhibits and the sheer volume of baseball artifacts.
Although he has managed three World Series champions, La Russa said becoming a Hall of Famer _ like Herzog and Schoendienst _ isn't necessarily a sure thing.
"I don't think you ever take anything for granted," he said. "I think about it, but I also know that Joe (Torre) and Bobby (Cox) retired a year earlier. So it looks to me like they're in line before I am."
Part of La Russa's legacy was on display in Cooperstown this past weekend as Cardinals Managing Partner and Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. brought the 2011 World Series trophy from St. Louis.
Rose still a red flag
Not every Cincinnati Reds fan is behind Pete Rose.
While some believe all-time hits leader Rose should be in the Hall despite his lifetime ban from baseball, two Reds fans who watched Saturday's annual Parade of Legends on Main Street said they feel differently.
"I think that Pete certainly still has his fans in Cincinnati," said Rex Repass of Glendale, Ohio. "However, I think there's also a contingent of many fans in Cincinnati that understands what he did was a problem. You probably will hear some (shouting for Rose's election during Sunday's Induction Ceremony), but it won't be majority of the fans."
Repass's friend Mark Mason of Westchester, Ohio, said everything changed for him when Rose admitted in his 2004 book, "My Prison Without Bars," that he lied about not betting on baseball when he was a player and a manager for the Reds.
"He lied too long and people don't like to be lied to," Mason said of Rose, who was signing memorabilia a few feet away at the store Safe At Home on Main Street.
Repass said he thinks Rose still struggles with accepting the ban imposed by former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989.
"As competitive as he was and is, I can't imagine how he would feel OK with not being in the Hall," Repass said. "I don't think he is at peace. These records were how he was driven and I can't imagine him being at peace with this."
Larkin draws big fan
Barry Larkin's induction was reason enough for two-term U.S. Senator and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to make his first trip to Cooperstown this past weekend.
DeWine, who represented the Buckeye state from 1995-2007 in the U.S. Senate, said Sunday he was most appreciative of Larkin's work ethic.
"Barry is very team-oriented," said DeWine, who arrived Friday in a van carrying seven family members. "He was named captain of the team for a reason. I like his work ethic and that he gets up every day and goes to work. We wanted to see a Red inducted into the Hall of Fame."
DeWine said he'll make a return trip at some point to spend more time in the Hall.
"I want to come back sometime and see it as a regular fan," he said.
Major star makes appearance
Larkin also was responsible for bringing Hollywood starpower to Induction Weekend as Charlie Sheen attended the Induction Ceremony at the former shortstop's request.
Sheen is probably best known for his former role on TV's "Two and a Half Men" and now stars in the FX series "Anger Management." The son of Martin Sheen also starred in "Major League" and "Major League II," as well as several other major motion pictures.
Sheen, who wore a Reds' cap Sunday, said Larkin invited him to the Induction Ceremony after the two met at the All-Star Game earlier this month.
"Baseball is the only religion that really works for me," Sheen said before he was whisked away for an MLB Network interview. "It's like a Norman Rockwell painting."
Parker in Larkin's corner
Dave Parker made the trek to Cooperstown to witness the induction of his former Reds teammate Larkin.
Parker said he worked closely with Larkin and Eric Davis, especially when one of them was in a slump.
"I learned how his stats were when he was going good, when he was going wrong, when he was going bad _ and I would bring it to his attention," Parker said Sunday. "What that does is shorten a prolonged slump, and we did that for each other. Eric Davis, Barry Larkin _ we all did it for each other."
Parker, who finished his 19-year career with 339 home runs and 1,493 RBIs, said Larkin was the game's premier shortstop during the 1990s.
"It's a well-deserved honor," Parker said of Larkin's induction. "He's one of the best shortstops in baseball for 19 years and he's reaping the benefits of it now.
"He played the game the way it should be played," he continued. "He cared about other people (and) he reached out to the younger guys as they came up. ... He always extended himself to the younger players and he did that extremely well."
Parker said he recently retired from 20 years in the restaurant business. He had owned a series of Dave Parker's Popeye's Chicken restaurants in the Cincinnati area.
McCarver praises Santo
Baseball broadcaster Tim McCarver, who was honored with the Ford C. Frick Award on Saturday, said 2012 inductee Ron Santo had it all.
"Two-step quickness and competitiveness," McCarver, who played against Santo in the 1960s and 1970s, said when asked to describe the former third baseman. "Everyone's a competitor in the major leagues. You have to be to get to play at that level. You're a ruthless competitor. You keep going and going and that's what Ron did. Ron had that innate ability to start and anticipate, and that's what he did at third base when he played defense for Leo Durocher and those great Cub teams of the 1960s."
In regard to the Awards Presentation, McCarver said it was a day he'll never forget.
"(Saturday) was overwhelming," he said. "I think all of the Hall of Famers from what they've said, they feel light-headed the day after their speech. The reason for that is it's out of the way and you hope you hit the right tone and the right notes and said exactly what you wanted to. That's why I'm very satisfied. I felt I did that. I was very happy the way things worked out."
The Awards Presentation also focused on the writing contributions of the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott, who won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. The first Canadian to win the award, Elliott took his opportunity on stage to urge the Baseball Writers' Association of America to vote in Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Larry Walker.